31 flavours of POW

From: David Cake (davidc@cyllene.uwa.edu.au)
Date: Wed 29 Oct 1997 - 03:51:01 EET


An involved discussion with Stephen Martin, who seems to have missed the
point of my discussion of different 'types' of POW
>For example, intelligent fish in the River of Cradles would,
>by your reasoning, have to have Intelligent Fish POW (IFP).

        Yup. They have Intelligent Fish CON, and Intelligent Fish STR as
well. Yes, Intelligent Fish attributes do differ in their qualities from
normal attributes in other ways. For example, they generally can't use
their STR to lift things up. And Snake SIZ, for example, does not subtract
from agility bonuses like normal SIZ. Its just that normally the
differences don't matter. You only need to keep track of it on the rare
occasions it does.

        What I am saying is that while I like the idea that POW comes in
different varieties, I don't like the idea of runic systems where
everything has its POW subdivided and classified all the time (ie every
troll has part Man and part Darkness POW - what a pain for every GM). I
want a system where 90% of the time you don't have to worry about it
because it is completely obvious. What sort of POW do trolls have? The
troll sort, just as they have troll STR and troll CON (troll CON is
different to human CON, too - having troll CON makes you immune to some of
the effects of certain poisons like Troll drinks. Of course, having a Troll
Con is just another way of saying you have a troll physiology, but having a
troll POW is just another way of saying you have a troll soul.). And most
of the time, having troll POW is just the same as having human POW, but
there are little differences that matter every so often.

>For example, intelligent fish in the River of Cradles would,
>by your reasoning, have to have Intelligent Fish POW (IFP). Maybe even by
>species. Then, you have to know that Zola Fel will accept IFP at least as
>much as he will accept Human POW (HP) and, for that matter, Newtling POW
>(NP), Duck POW (DP), and Blue Elf POW (FWBEP) (only the one fresh water
>species, I assume) and the occasional bit of Triolini POW (I assume it is
>Ludoch, but could a passing Zabdamar give him some Zabdamar Power (ZP)?).

        Sure. All this is written in the cult description already, though.
Just under different terms.
        I mentioned that Kygor Litor only accepts Troll POW only because it
already says in her cult description that you have to be a troll (by birth
or by undergoing that hideous ceremony) to worship her. So she only accepts
Troll POW (or whatever).

>By this time, I think half the GMs would be trying to figure out the
>acceptance ratio: is IFP worth twice as much to Zola Fel as HP, or only
>1.73?

1:1 or not at all, is my view. I think Nephilim has made a bit of an error
by putting divisors in, making it sometimes a little complex in use.
        And while we are on the subject, Nephilim discovered that
classifying POW by the standards of one particular symbolic system was an
error, resulting in huge flame wars and convoluted rules necessary for the
design of a non-European magic system (the supplement I'm talking about
hasn't yet eventuated, but that is probably in part because it was
complicated by these issues). Rather than try and fit everything Gloranthan
to the Runes, or have convoluted systems of conversion, I'd rather just
have a free flowing system, where 90% everything is obvious.

        Where it does matter is with spirits and such, and when you start
to get into other otherworldly beings. And we already know that different
spirits have different sorts of POW with different properties - its
implicit in the strange division into Magic, POW, Intellect, etc spirits.

        I'm trying to construct a way of looking at the current magic rules
that gives you ideas for how they can be extended in interesting ways, not
create a new funky magic system that changes everythign about the universe.

        Steve and I argue about whether spirit magic is the same as cult magic
>At this point, I doubt a Divination to Greg would work.

        I think this is a major world issue - it shouldn't just be a matter
for what mechanics are convenient.But it does presume that the various
kinds of magic are recognisable in the new system.

>And, unless I miss my guess, it won't look anything like any of
>us imagine, in a rules sense.

        Some of the issues may remain important, some may not. I don't want
to pre-empt any idea of what the new game may be like - but that
(especially with the unknown time frame for any new game) is no reason not
to talk about what we think the situation is now.

>First of all, it is not true that most Gloranthan
>Divine cults evolved from Spirit Cults, and I think Greg would be the
>first person to stress this. The gods were actually walking around in the
>Lesser and Greater Darkness, and in the Grey Age. People began worshiping
>the gods long before Spirit Cults first formed.

        As far as I am concerned, if you meet up with the god and start
worshipping it, that is exactly the same as a spirit cult, just without the
necessity for a shaman to find the god. The connection to the divine being
is established by direct negotiation, rather than by following a
pre-established set of rituals (which maintain an established connection
to the god) like modern divine cults. Spell-teaching in Glorantha has
always been (for both shamans and divine magicians) via communion with a
spirit rather than via the god directly. I consider this to be an aspect of
the world, not a game mechanic.
        I think that the distinguishing aspect of a spirit cult is that it
is a small group, with a newly (and directly) established connection to the
divine being. Almost always in the modern world this direct contact is
established via shamanic spirit travel - but heroquesting, or just direct
contact with a coincidentally incarnated deity amount to much the same
thing.

>Second, I am NOT necessarily saying that all Low Magic/Human Magic is the
>exact same magic, merely that it is very easy to use nearly identical
>spell names, descriptions, and mechanics for them.

        Well, no problem with that then - that IS a game mechanic, not an
aspect of the world. Personally, my tastes run against it, as if sorcery is
distinct from spirit magic I'd rather have that made clear in the mechanics
as well, but YMMV (and its not a Glorantha issue).

        Cheers

                David

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